CKAN Discourse Integration
by OpenGov

How it works

A new topic is created in the Discourse forum (in a designated Category) for each dataset, organization, and group in the CKAN site. This will happen automatically the first time someone visits the CKAN dataset, org and group page and starts a discussion. Topic reply counts are also displayed in the appropriate listing pages.

This plugin also supports ckanext-datarequests and ckanext-showcase.

Setup Discourse

  1. Install Discourse (v1.6+)

    The recommended way is to use the official Docker image following these instructions.

    Heads up! There is an extra step not described in Discourse’s install instructions.

    After the app.yml is generated and before bootstrapping, edit the /containers/app.yml file and add - git clone to Discourse plugins:

        - exec:
            cd: $home/plugins
              - mkdir -p plugins
              - git clone
              - git clone

    Make sure to keep the existing spaces and indentation.

    Also make sure to set up Discourse email integration properly before proceeding as its required for account creation and notification.

  2. Create a new Discourse user. This will be the user that will create the topics on Discourse for each CKAN entity that has commenting support (currently, commenting is supported on Dataset packages, Organizations, Groups, Showcase Items, Dataset requests).

To create a new user, go to “Admin” > “Users” > “Send Invites” and enter an email address. You may want to name the user so that its plainly evident its a bot (e.g. databot). After creating the bot user, be sure to verify its email so it can post. (TODO: admin, mod?)

  1. Create a new Discourse Category. This will contain all topics created for each CKAN dataset. To do so, go to the homepage and click on “Categories” > “New Category”. Enter a name and optionally the slug for your category (e.g. Open Data Talk). After creating a Category, go to the Category page and take note of the URL. You will need this to setup ckanext-discourse.

  2. Configure Embbedding. Go to “Admin” > “Customize” > “Embedding”. You must fill up the following fields:

    • Allowed Hosts: Add the domain (without the http:// bit) of your CKAN instance (e.g.
    • Post to Category: Name of the category that you created on step 3 (e.g. Open Data Portal Datasets)
    • Embedding Settings: Username for topic creation: Name of the user that you created on step 2 (e.g. databot)
    • Crawler Settings:
    • CSS selector for elements that are allowed in embeds - ".module-content"
    • CSS selector for elements that are removed from embeds - ".ckanext-showcase-launch, .discourse-content, .social, .nums, .follow_button"
  3. Configure Oneboxing. Go to “Admin” > “Settings” > “Onebox”. Oneboxing allows users to create a Onebox preview from CKAN URLs. To create a CKAN onebox in Discourse, just insert a CKAN URL in its own line and one will be created automatically. (Demo here)

Setup CKAN

  1. Install ckanext-discourse.

    . /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate
    cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src
    git clone
    cd ckanext-discourse
    python develop
  2. Add the discourse plugin to the enabled plugins on your ini file:

    ckan.plugins = ... discourse

    If discourse embedding is desired for ckanext-showcase and ckanext-datarequests, be sure to add the discourse plugin after those plugins (i.e. ckan.plugins = … showcase datarequests discourse)

  3. Add the following options as well:

    discourse.url =
    discourse.username = databot
    discourse.ckan_category = c/open-data-talk
    discourse_count_cache_age = 60
    discourse.debug = false

discourse.url: the url of your Discourse instance. Be sure to specify the full url. https is supported.

discourse.username: the discourse username created earlier.

discourse.ckan_category: appended to the discourse.url to get the full URL of the discourse category JSON. In this example, the webpage for the Discourse CKAN category is The plugin automatically adds the “.json” file suffix (i.e. to get the JSON file required to talk to the Discourse API.

discourse_count_cache_age: how often to talk to the the Discourse API in seconds.

discourse.debug: instead of inserting the JS code to embed a Discourse topic, debugging information is displayed instead. This is useful when troubleshooting, as a misconfigured plugin will “spam” your discourse instance with topics that may annoy your users with false-positive discourse notifications.

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